Sinn Fein forced a snap election when it thought the DUP and unionism had “been weakened” by the RHI crisis, Arlene Foster has claimed.
Launching the DUP’s election campaign in Lurgan on Monday, party leader and outgoing first minister Mrs Foster referred several times to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams as a malign influence in Northern Ireland politics – whose personal agenda will now be taken forward by Michelle O’Neill.
Mrs Foster said: “Make no mistake, that this election will be very close. So come election day, Sinn Fein could have enough votes to be the biggest party, capture the first minister’s post and push to implement Gerry Adams’ agenda for Northern Ireland. Just imagine what that would mean for our way of life. Martin McGuinness may have been nominally replaced by Michelle O’Neill as leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland but make no mistake about it, it is Gerry Adams who is back and centre stage.”
Mrs Foster added: “Be very clear, Michelle O’Neill was selected by Gerry Adams and she will be instructed by Gerry Adams.”
In a direct appeal to unionist voters, Mrs Foster claimed that a vote for any party other than the DUP “makes it much easier” for Sinn Fein to make electoral gains.
“So, if you want Sinn Fein as the biggest party seeking to implement Gerry Adams’ agenda for Northern Ireland then vote for Sinn Fein ... or any other unionist party. But if you want to stop Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein getting power, if you want to stop them doing to Northern Ireland what they have always wanted to do, then you cannot risk splitting the unionist vote,” she said.